Why Craft Beer Matters
The homebrewing legend Charlie Papazian once called Boulder “ground zero.”
He wasn’t referring to an epicenter of some natural disaster. He was talking about beer.
“Boulder was kind of a vibrant starting point of community building that has really defined what craft brewers are today,” Charlie said– and he should know. After Boulder’s long beer drought ended in 1967, homebrewers who had been secretly practicing their hobby or trade could finally brew legal beer, and a movement thrived. In 1978, Charlie Papazian started the American Homebrewers Association with fellow brewer Charlie Matzen, and well, the rest was history.
Now the author of several books on the subject, Mr. Papazian is considered the godfather of craft brewing. On April 2nd the Boulder Chamber honored him and 6 flagship breweries with Industry Leader Awards at the Celebration of Leadership Ceremony. On the Boulder Theater stage, Charlie was the speaker for the honorees, founders of the beloved breweries dubbed “Boulder’s six pack” (Boulder Beer, Avery Brewing, Lefthand Brewing Co, Twisted Pine Brewing Co, Oskar Blues and Upslope).
“Here we have a magnificent 7, that represent the spirit of Boulder’s independent brewers, giving the rest of the world a taste of what business owners have to offer,” he said.
Besides the fact Boulder represents one of the most prolific brewing areas on the planet, its reputation as a haven for independent businesses creates some unique opportunities for local aspiring beer-makers to spread their wings, and also serves as a great model for other brew-worthy places not so close to home.
According to Charlie, in the past 5 to 10 years, 3,000 craft breweries sprang into existence outside the US.
“They take their spirit from these guys up here,” he said.
And although small breweries may seem like small operations, their economic impact packs a punch. Craft brewers injected $34 billion into the US economy in 2013, a number that continues to grow as interest in microbreweries and making batches at home peaks.
Right now, Charlie estimates 1 out of every 200 people homebrew. He started his first batch 44 years ago, and he picked up a few things along the way. The most important thing a brewer needs to keep in mind, he said, is to relax. Homebrewing should be fun, rewarding, and a chance to express yourself in whatever way you so choose. Don’t be afraid to be creative; once that starts flowing, so will the good beer.
It’s like Charlie said in the introduction of his book “The Joy of Homebrewing”: “Remember, the best beer in the world is one you brewed.”